One of the best known and most popular Dracula films is by Francis Ford Coppola. At the time he really hadn’t made a hit film since The Godfather, he was going bankrupt. So what better way to get out of debt than to make something that is pretty much a guaranteed thing that audiences will love? We got the scares for the boys and the romance for the girls and it equals Dracula. Many people ask me what is with the appeal of vampires? My opinion; it all equals sex. The dashing handsome man coming into the young lady’s room at night confessing his desire for her and her giving herself completely to him is not only romantic, but dangerous and filled with adventure. I always found it funny that Dracula was supposed to be the villain of the story, but he’s offering to take the girl on this incredible adventure through the world and time yet her usually bland boyfriend doesn’t want it that way so he rips her from that experience… I don’t know, maybe I just look at things too differently. However moving onto the film, Francis took on the classic tale claiming to be “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”, not really being 100% faithful to the novel and really over glamed it, however still made this into a very good movie.
In 1897, newly-qualified solicitor Jonathan Harker takes the Transylvanian Count Dracula as a client from his colleague R. M. Renfield, who has gone insane. Jonathan travels to Transylvania to arrange Dracula’s real estate acquisition in London, including Carfax Abbey. Jonathan meets Dracula, who discovers a picture of Harker’s fiancée, Mina, and believes that she is the reincarnation of Elisabeta, his long lost love. Dracula leaves Jonathan to be seduced by his brides and sails to England with boxes of his native soil, taking up residence at Carfax Abbey. In London, Dracula appearing young and handsome during daylight, meets and charms Mina.
When Mina receives word from Jonathan, who has escaped the castle and recovered at a convent, she travels to Romania to marry him. In his fury, Dracula transforms Lucy, her best friend, into a vampire. The men: Van Helsing, Holmwood, Seward and Morris kill Lucy. After Jonathan and Mina return to London, Jonathan and Van Helsing lead the others to Carfax Abbey, where they destroy the Count’s boxes of soil. Dracula confesses that he murdered Lucy and has been terrorizing Mina’s friends, but a confused and angry Mina admits that she still loves him and remembers her previous life as Elisabeta. At her insistence, Dracula begins transforming her into a vampire. The men are now determined to save her before her transformation is complete by killing Dracula.
What makes this film so special compared to other Dracula movies? I think it was Gary Oldman’s performance, he made a very memorable Dracula. Ranging from creepy and disturbing to romantic and charming. I think a lot of people connected with the love story, even if it was over romanticized, a lot of people would like to think that “love never dies” and someone would “cross oceans of time to find them”. Does the film have flaws; oh yeah. Between the laugh fest that was the battle of the bad accents between Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder. There are scenes that are very over the top and over acted, sometimes also equaling a little too MTV generation. However, you cannot deny that the style of the film is absolutely memorizing and very elegant. The costumes and sets are very stunning and who could forget Dracula’s “butt” hair-do? This film has had so many parodies making fun of the lines and hair, but I think that goes to show the impact that the film had. It also started a stream of the Universal Studio remakes with “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” and “Wolf” later on. The film may be flawed, but I still love it. It’s not faithful to the novel, but gets more things correct compared to other films like Dracula’s death and some lines directly taken from the novel like “Yes, I too can love”. I think this will go down in the horror classics when it comes to vampire movies, it’s got class, violence, blood, style and a lot of sex appeal.